The twin disasters of Hurricane Laura and the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic have created unprecedented challenges for communities along the Gulf Coast. While Laura passed between the major cities of New Orleans and Houston, more than 600,000 homes lay in the path of the Category 4 Hurricane. With Coronavirus cases spiking in the area, residents without access to clean water were challenged to protect themselves from the virus. And giant shelters, such as gyms and stadiums, remained empty because civic leaders feared they would lead to increased spread of the disease.
By sheer good luck, the impact of Hurricane Laura was less than originally predicted. At the same time, legislative efforts are moving through Congress to ensure that protecting the built environment from these monster storms will not be left to chance. Over the last decade, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has released a series of research papers showing that mitigation of both residential and commercial buildings in advance of these disasters can deliver a financial return of up to eleven times the initial investment. Faced with the almost impossible and astronomically expensive task of funding repairs after these cataclysmic events, FEMA has increasingly focused on mitigation.
Capitol Hill has taken notice, and most recently, the Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act of 20202 was reintroduced. This Act would offer a tax credit of up to $25,000 for commercial construction that met new standards of resilience.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, (D-NJ), one of the sponsors of the bill noted ERA’s support of the legislation as part of a coalition of construction industry organizations, including the ICC, the NAHB and the US Resiliency Council. In his press release announcing reintroduction of the bill, Rep. Pascrell quoted ERA’s statement of support: “In the critical effort to create resilient communities across our country to confront increasing climatic disasters, it is recognized that resilience of the built environment is key component,” said the EPDM Roofing Association. “This legislation incentivizes the private sector to make the financial commitment to begin this necessary effort in the residential and commercial markets.”
ERA’s support of this legislation is part of its ongoing effort to educate the building community and its related stakeholders about the importance of mitigation. The Association has committed significant resources to this effort, noting that the attributes of EPDM membrane make it a uniquely valuable component of a resilient roofing system. ERA will continue to monitor and support legislation that advances efforts to create a resilient built environment. For more on our efforts, and specifics on how to create a resilient roofing system, please consult our 2020 report, “Building Resilience: The Roofing Perspective” at https://epdmroofs.org/resource/building-resilience-the-roofing-perspective-2/